Cigarette Sales Are Smokin’

A slower return to normalcy may benefit a major category.

December 23, 2021


By Melissa Vonder Haar

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—Without a doubt, 2020 was a great year for cigarettes. Even though just 16% of the U.S. adult population smoked as of 2019, cigarette sales didn’t experience the same declines in 2020 that have been typical of recent years. Sales grew by 3.6%, according to the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2020 Data.

This uptick in sales was a bright spot for convenience retailers, especially given the importance of the category to a c-store’s overall sales and profit. In 2020, cigarettes again represented the largest contributor of in-store sales (27.79%) and were third in terms of in-store gross margin (13.92%), falling behind prepared food (21.97%) and packaged beverages (19.02%).

“Sales and profit increases from 2019 to 2020 were largely attributed to increased consumption throughout lockdown and work from home,” said Jayme Gough, NACS research manager.

But the question is: What happens to cigarette sales as the country slowly eases back to normal?

Find out in this month’s Category Close-Up article “Smokin’ Sales” in the digital copy of NACS Magazine.

Melissa Vonder Haar is the marketing director for iSEE Store Innovations. Follow her on Twitter at @iSeeMelissaV.